Two For The Road
It all happened really fast.
Goku leaned in first – or was it Bulma? They never knew – their lips met halfway, instinctively, without a moment of hesitation. And instinctively Goku drew his arms around her small waist, seizing her closer in the same exact instant she lifted her hands to the sides of his faces, pulling him in.
It was firm, but feathery light at first – Goku plumping his lower lip out a little right between Bulma's lips, feeling her hot breath enter his mouth.
They drew away for a millisecond, then pressed their mouths in again, forcefully this time. Bulma opened her mouth a little to grasp Goku's bottom lip between hers and it became, in that instant, a real kiss.
Not friendly and tentative, or playful, but something else.
Bulma slid her fingers around the back of Goku's neck, the fingertips slipping upward into his wild, thick hair, over the back of his skull. Goku got goosebumps, and his mouth opened wider and she lost her balance, almost toppling on him as her tongue crept forward, nudging into Goku's mouth; Goku pushed back with his tongue, a little startled – then, before he knew it, his tongue was in Bulma's mouth, tasting the inside of her – which was hot and soft and a little sweet.
They finally toppled over on the grass. She giggled against his mouth as their bodies made contact, were pressed together, sticking tight in a perfect fit – complementary. Goku's heart was racing and all the hairs on his body were standing up like he was cold, but he wasn't cold. His face felt hot. And he felt very urgent, a little crazy and dizzy.
What's happening to me? he thought, and a little moan escaped him into Bulma's mouth, and Bulma shoved it back in with her tongue, now fully inside Goku's mouth, dipping into him over and over again, like she was trying to take something from him and he wanted to give it to Bulma – all of it, all of him, kiss her endlessly.
He would have given Bulma anything and those feelings of urgency were so foreign to him that, despite everything, Goku found himself breaking the kiss, pulling back slightly, enough so he could look down into her eyes. And surely enough, those shimmering aqua eyes, big as pools, looked up at him.
"What?" she breathed.
Goku opened his mouth to answer, but he didn't know what was going on, he didn't know exactly what he was looking for in those eyes – still, there was something that he knew; he knew that it felt like he was exactly where he was supposed to be. He smiled.
"Nothing," he said quietly.
Bulma eyed him with a mixture of curiosity and concern. Goku just inches from her face. Goku, eyes all wide and shining, the goofy smile, the impossible hair. The strange monkey kid, the childhood friend. And yet, that night she wanted to pull him on top of her, like a blanket – something to keep her warm. She would have given Goku anything he wanted if she could just have that, if they could do that now.
She closed the gap between their mouths again, hungrily, tightening her grip around his shoulders and, as he responded to her kiss, she felt something in his powerful body melt softly into her embrace, as if something that belonged to him had just faded into her, sinking deep, becoming part of her own being. But it wasn't enough –and without realizing it, her leg shot up, going around his waist, chaining his body to her body.
It hit her like a shockwave – she wanted him. She drew back for a moment to catch her breath. Inches above her face, Goku was gazing down at her again, grinning, open and blissful now, face flushed and eyes enormous and Bulma felt wonder, amazement what she was feeling. In synchrony, they let out a soft, hot breathe.
Goku's expression got serious, solemn, as he studied Bulma's eyes again. Her eyes flickered in a special way, he had always noticed but never seen. Her skin was soft and white and he didn't know why, but he delighted in it for the first time and her lips, he wanted to touch them, to feel – Goku cupped her face with a hand, and, his eyes never leaving hers, with a single brush of his finger he slowly, slowly discovered that her lips felt moist beneath his thumb.
He kissed her again, slowly, sucking on her lower lip. Bulma moaned, loud and hard this time. She began to stroke his back, running her palms up on the blazes of his shoulders, then down, and her hands went to his navy blue belt, tugging lightly –
She could hear his breathing – heavy and trembling, quivering.
"Bulma, I -"
"Shh," she whispered. "I know."
She looked up at him. Her until then familiar face was a well of emotions he'd never seen before, ever, on anyone.
"Just… don't stop," she rasped.
Bulma took his warm hand, leading it down on her belly, then down, down, then she gasped slightly as his instinct kicked in and she felt him grab the end of her oversized t-shirt, the one she always used as a nightgown – he yanked it up, undressing her, throwing it carelessly to the side.
Goku stared – galvanized. He observed the milky creaminess of her skin, the shape of her breasts. Her swanlike neck, white, tender. Every nerve in his body was vividly alive and focused and wanting. He lowered his head on her neck and she gasped and, just like that, they lost her senses completely, drowning in bliss, blown away. Genuinely. It was rapture, it was ecstasy, it was completeness. It was perfect.
The air was motionless around them. The cool night wind blowing from over the surrounding mountains had been still for the last minutes or so, as if it were holding its breath watching Goku and Bulma giving it up to each other completely — Goku's innocence and Bulma's sense of self-righteousness.
Bulma woke to the sound of a faraway thunder. She furrowed her brow – her eyes still closed – and softly she exhaled through her nose – another five minutes, please. She felt too good – she wasn't in any rush to go back to the world of wakefulness. She was having the freakiest dream also – she wanted to know how it ended. Another thunder rumbled, closer this time – if I could just ignore that – she drowsily thought. She felt a gentle, crisp but not unpleasant breeze tickling her skin. That was weird. She must have left the window open.
A soft snore was coming from somewhere near. She opened her eyes, listlessly, blinking a few times as things came to focus soon enough. And as soon as they did she discovered two things.
One, she was completely naked. Two, she was nestled against something warm and solid and that was the reason she wasn't the slightest bit cold laying naked on the grass of a clearing beside a small lake. It all came back in a wave.
She sat up.
Her shrilling yell startled Goku awake and he sat up so fast his head bumped against hers. Bulma saw stars. "OUCH!"
"Who what where when why?" Goku slurred, seemingly unaffected by the collision, eyelids still half down. "Is it breakfast time?"
"Watch out, you dummy!" Bulma wailed.
She held her ringing head, groaning, tears gathering at the corner of her eyes. "Damn!" she said, giving him her most rehearsed stink eye. "How thick is that skull of yours?"
Goku blinked, then he seemed to retain some kind of alertness, his features suddenly animating. "Whoa, sorry, Bulma!" he exclaimed. "Did I hurt you?"
Bulma sent him a hot what-do-you-think glare, then lowered her hands, allowing him to get a look. "You think it's going to swell?" she whined.
Goku inspected her scalp, prodding it gingerly with his fingers, allowing them to linger for a brief moment onto her hair. He inhaled deeply. It had a faint, warm scent, something familiar, like wood and roses and honey blended together.
"Nah, you'll be fine."
He gave her a gentle poke, but Bulma glowered at him. "Do you know how precious my head is?" she shrieked, going back to rub the sore spot at the side of her temple.
Goku scratched the back of his own head, laughing faintly. "I think you mentioned it once or twice."
He smiled with warmth and that was the moment Bulma lost it. It was as if something shattered in the thin air, she almost heard the sound of glass breaking, shattering in millions of fragments.
She had done it. They had done it. She had slept with Goku and what was worse – what was the worst – she had done so before the bash to her skull. How could she'd been so freaking foolish? What the hell was wrong with her?
Oh, dear Kami – she went pale, suddenly feeling horribly, horribly self-conscious and she folded her legs to her chest, hugging them tightly, trying to cover what she knew she'd never wanted him to see, even if it was late and it was futile.
"Damn," she hissed under her breath.
Bulma lifted her head. "We should get dressed," she said blankly and she took a shirt from the ground beside her and pulled it over her head.
"That's my shirt," he said lightly.
She looked down and saw the orange fabric. It smelled like him.
"Right," she said in a clipped voice and crossed her arms, removing it quickly – she threw it to his face, hoping it would give her enough time to get properly dressed without having his eyes burning through her, but he caught it effortlessly and looked up again.
Scowling, Bulma got up. Her limbs felt weak. She stumbled as she reached down and recovered her discarded panties, putting them back on. She swiftly pulled her long, hot pink t-shirt over her head and, once done, she could finally take a deep breath and stand straight. Thank Kami.
She glanced down at Goku who was still sitting on the ground, still undressed, staring at her in a way she didn't like. Not in daylight. Not ever.
"Can you put your clothes on?" she snapped.
He blinked slowly three times, looking at her in confusion. "Is everything okay?"
Bulma closed her eyes for a moment, before relenting with an impatient sigh. "Yeah," she replied. " But we should go back before it pours on us."
As if on cue, another thunder echoed through the air. "You're right," he said, and thankfully, reached to put his pants back on.
That misty hour just after dawn was clouded, everything was grey and blue and dull – even the round mirror of water beside them had taken on a steely shade.
Bulma wanted to run. To bolt the place, never ever looking back, but she had the distinct feeling of not knowing where the hell they were and of course, it was just her luck that to escape that mind blowing situation, she had to endure another flight with him and for the life of her she didn't know how she was going to do it. How, if she felt the even looking at him for longer than a second wasn't an option anymore?
She squinted at the dark blur of trees and wild vegetation surrounding the clearing and thought about the odds of becoming some wild animal's breakfast whilst trying to spare herself the embarrass of the ride, or of being incinerated by lightning, of disappearing forever from the face of earth – would he disappear with her if she asked? – and was weighing her options when she felt him walking up behind her. Her heart quickened. He placed his hand on her shoulder and it wasn't warm, it wasn't hot, it was ardent, blazing on her skin. Her breath stilled.
"Ready?" he simply said.
No. "Yes. Let's go."
She closed her eyes as he hooked his arms around her waist and they left the ground behind.
It had started to drizzle. It was chilly and uncomfortable but not to her. Her face felt stiff and cold, her bones numb, but Bulma was grateful for the little drops, she let them slap her face hoping they could put some sense to her and take away everything else, everything she'd done – her own being washed away by the morning rain.
Her stomach gave a jolt – without realizing it, they had already begun their descent.
They were soaked to the bones, but through the numbness she became more aware of Goku's arm that felt incandescent around her midriff, of the outlines of their bodies fused together, stuck together and it sent her nerves on flames. Thankfully she could finally see the tops of buildings getting larger and larger from all sides – West City was below them and Bulma welcomed the sight with open arms.
Her legs were stiff and weak when they touched the wet pavement of her balcony. The rain wasn't relenting. His arm left her and she knew he was stalling, but she didn't bother to look up. She glanced at the french window she had left ajar the night before, at the white curtains of her bedroom - recognizable, familiar. For a moment she believed things could go back to normal, that she could go back to who and what she was before when she had yet to lose her mind and have sex with Son Kun. Her normal life was waiting just beyond those curtains.
"I'm going to hop right into the shower, I'm freezing," was what she said. Head cast downwards, she lunged for the glass door, but a strong hand grabbed her forearm, stopping her in her tracks.
Yeah, there was no such thing as luck that day.
Reluctantly, she turned to face him but made it a point of not meeting his eyes, exasperation seeping through her.
She felt him exhale slowly. He let go of her arm. "I don't understand," he finally said. Honest, clear, straightforward. "What's going on? What's gotten into you?"
At that, Bulma knew she had to look at him. She gathered all the courage she had and raised her head. Through the rain, Goku was looking at her with an expression so confused it bordered on dumb and she would have found it comical in any other situation. Still, she allowed a laugh to leave her, but it was bitter, sour, devoid of any levity. Leave it to Goku to screw up with her and not know how or why. He was really that clueless.
A nasty thought crossed her mind – she had taken advantage of her friend. He was clear, like the silvery water in which they'd swam. He was marrying someone he didn't know because he had promised. He was innocent and naïve and she had tried to take that from him, take the things that made him stand out, she had kissed him and he'd kissed back, they had fallen into each other recklessly and by allowing that she had destroyed everything in the process. Things would never go back to what they were. Ever.
They'd really did it.
She swallowed hard, her throat impossibly dry. She wanted so much to tell him she was sorry, just how sorry she was, that she was a fool, but she didn't know how – words and thoughts were failing her because, above all, what she wanted was to kiss him. Feel those lips again. Everything was blurred at the edges and Bulma allowed herself to hope that that was just a hazy fever dream and that she would wake up and she would not be this crazy person she didn't recognize. But then –
"Come away with me."
Bulma could only stare, struck dumb and frozen to the spot. Surely she had misheard.
Goku's black, shining eyes were piercing through her with resolution. "Come away with me," he repeated.
Bulma felt the remainings of her levelheadedness – which wasn't much anymore, really – leave her all at once in a rush. It was like the popping of a bottle. She snapped.
"And who do you think you are?" she yelled. "Telling me this?"
Goku grabbed her shoulders. She flinched, even though there was no threat in his grasp, just infinite softness. He was holding onto her as if he needed to touch – to feel – in order to understand.
"Why?" he insisted, with determination. "We could just jump up on Nimbus and go – we could find the Dragon Balls, we could –"
"I can't ride on Nimbus," she interrupted tonelessly.
Goku narrowed his eyes. "Then I'll carry you."
Bulma shook her head. "Pfft. Yeah."
Goku let his arms slide down, freeing her shoulders. "What are you afraid of?" he then said.
"I'm not afraid," she replied. Straining, choking, because those black eyes were burning a hole through her soul and she could not think – she could not be. She felt the urge to flee, once again, to run away and never look back and it should have been that easy – but that was Goku, Goku in front of her and she cared for him more than she thought it was possible, and he was a little boy with a dragon ball and she was the girl from the big city and he was making it impossible for her to breathe.
"What do you want from me, Goku?" she said, letting her arms up and down her sides once in a gesture of surrender, her vocal cords doing their best to seize up.
His answer came in a beat, with a shrug, as if it was the most natural thing in the world to say and she was stupid for even asking.
Bulma was incredulous. "You're crazy."
"And you're not?" Goku said, an even more incredulous intonation in his voice.
Bulma let out the same hollow laugh from before. "Very funny," she said.
It was time to put an end to that mess before it got even worse for the both of them. And she was the only one that could do that, so she closed her eyes for a moment, trying to gather her wits. The rain kept hammering down and she used it to refresh her thoughts.
"This is all wrong," she finally said, trying to keep her voice level. "Don't you see?"
Finally, she could breathe. The admission of mistake freed her from the unremitting turmoil. She knew what was right and what she had to do.
"Use your brain!" she said, but it wasn't harsh, it wasn't arrogant. It was as gentle as she had ever been because she was talking to him, but mostly to herself. "Think about Chichi and the promise you made, Son Kun," she continued. "You two are supposed to be husband and wife in a few hours. And what about Yamcha? He's your friend, isn't he? What do you think he'd say?"
Goku blinked. Somehow, he now looked tinier to her eyes. Even his hair was drooping down. She knew it was from the rain, but he looked so forlorn it seemed like every part of his being was sagging down.
"Then why did you do it?" he said.
Because I wanted to. Bulma shook her head.
"I have to go," she whispered and with that, she turned and ran inside. Away from the rain, away from him, not looking back, not even when she heard him call out for her.
She ran across the bedroom and into her bathroom, slamming the door shut. She turned on the tap of the shower and let the water come down, allowing it to get warmer and warmer as she slid down against the closed door and sobbed, wailing like a little girl for the first time in years.
Yamcha tapped his knuckles on the open door of Bulma's bedroom, before allowing himself in.
Bulma was at the mirror, glancing at her reflection with a critic eye. She had left her long aqua hair loose, free to frame her face and to fall gently on her bare shoulders. She smoothed the lines of her pale pink dress, a pensive look on her face.
Well, here it goes, she thought. She knew the time to face him would come. She looked up into his eyes, staring back at them through the mirror.
She could do it. Of course she could. She had spent most of the last three hours in the shower, trying to regain a hold of her whole being, feeling the scalding water on her skin.
The shower had done the trick because once wrapped into her white puffy robe, she had felt a little bit more like her usual self. Except, she had felt suddenly so drained, so mind numbingly tired, that all she wanted was to crawl into her bed and sleep for twelve hours straight. For an amazing minute she thought nothing was really stopping her from doing so – she didn't have any kind of obligation toward that stupid wedding. She could just sleep it away, like a bad movie or something. As if she really was in the mood to face Goku again. She had almost made up her mind and was wrestling herself into a new crisp set of pajamas – she was planning to throw in the dumpster the pink, oversized t-shirt – when her stomach had twisted icily. She had stopped dead in her tracks, her arms stuck up stupidly into the fresh shirt she was about to pull on her head. No, she had thought. What if… what if Goku talked with someone about what had happened?
Her face becoming a nice shade of green, she had imagined Krillin discussing her sex life at length. Then the old pervert was next. And then, surely, Yamcha was going to know in no time.
What the hell!, she had thought. What the hell in hell!, she had emphasized, when she had felt that cursing once wasn't enough.
Now she had a very good reason to show up at Goku and Chichi's wedding. Talking to Goku was the last thing she wanted to do, but she had to make sure he was going to tell no one. And she had to tell him clearly, no embellishments, she couldn't risk misunderstandings of any kind. Her rekindled relationship with Yamcha was worthy of another face-off with Goku, she told herself. Yes. It was. She had slipped once, wasn't going to happen again; she was going to handle things in a mature way from now on. She was.
So, with a renewed resolution, she had put on the pink off-the-shoulders dress she had chosen the night before and her best game face, ready to tackle Goku's ingenuity head on.
"Your mother sent me up here," Yamcha said as he walked up behind her. He hugged her from behind, looking at their perfect reflection with a fond smile. "Are you ready?" he asked.
Bulma smiled in return, the sides of her eyes crinkling slightly.
"Almost," she answered and broke free from his embrace to go and rummage into the small silky clutch bag abandoned on her armchair. She found her lipstick and went back to the mirror as Yamcha sighed and plopped down on her bed, making the springs whine under his weight.
"I heard from Krillin. He's already over there and going nuts," he said snickering lightly. "I don't think Master Roshi is the best companion at weddings."
"Hmpf," Bulma snorted while starting to put on the lipstick. "I wonder just when he is the best companion."
Yamcha laughed outright. "Aw, come on!"
Bulma smirked and focused on her lipstick. She was applying it carefully, beware of not leaving smears and, as she concentrated on the lovely bright hue, an unexpected thought invaded her mind.
Bulma, what happened? It looks like your lips are bleeding!
She shut her eyes firmly, but it didn't help. She felt his thumb running over her lower lip, slowly, lingering on it, savoring it.
No, no and no!
She energetically shook her head and turned her back to the mirror.
"Done," she said. "What do you think?"
Yamcha leaped up. "You look beautiful," he said and he was sincere. Bulma knew he was. She smiled and gave him the once over.
"You clean up nicely too," she said, eyeing the wild hair held in a shaggy ponytail, the crisp navy suit, the impeccable white shirt.
"Hehe," Yamcha said with a wink. "Rented."
Bulma rolled her eyes playfully. "I figured as much," she replied and she reached to straighten his dark tie. "There," she said with a smile and looked up at him. "Perfect."
Without warning, something painful flared in her chest and she let her eyes slide down.
Yamcha didn't notice. "Come on, Puar's waiting downstairs." He was already pulling her towards the door. "Let's go save Krillin, shall we."
Bulma let out a fake laugh. "Yeah, yeah, whatever," she said as good-naturedly as she could, and followed him down the stairs.
The flight to the Ox-King castle, where the wedding was taking place, was not very long, thankfully, but it was long enough for Bulma that hadn't taken into account the strain needed to share a very secluded space with Yamcha just yet. She made it through by turning up the volume of the music to the maximum and, once she began singing out of tune to make him laugh while Puar covered his ears, everything seemed a little bit easier.
She was just starting to relax when Yamcha landed their air car in the middle a very green large field.
The Frypan Mountain stood tall and majestic. She looked around and thought about the one and only time she had been in that place. It was very different; what was now green and thriving, had once been only fire and ashes. She had been only sixteen, she thought with a wistful smile and Goku had launched his very first Kamehameha. Wow, that had been amazing. If only he hadn't totaled their car. Typical, she smirked, with amusement despite herself.
They made their way to the castle, where the Ox-King was standing at the gates, meeting the guests. He crushed the three of them in a painful hug, while crying with joy and babbling something about her lovely only daughter, apple of his eye, blah blah blah, Bulma tuned him out as she was already set on her mission when she followed Yamcha into the crowded reception room, where white, whimsical flowers adorned almost every surface. It was really pretty, she had to admit.
"Hohoho, look who's here!"
Bulma rolled her eyes as she heard Master Roshi and turned to see as he barrelled towards them, glass in hand, followed by Krillin, Oolong and Launch.
"Ooooh, hello!" Puar squeaked.
"Hey, guys!" Yamcha exclaimed. "How's it going?"
Bulma raised an eyebrow as she watched Krillin making a silent slashing motion across his throat from behind Roshi's back. It was eloquent enough to make her ready to fend off the old fellow.
"Hoho, Bulma! Looking good!" he merrily said and he hadn't even began to try something that she whacked him on the head with all her might.
"STAY BACK, YOU OLD MAN!" she bellowed fiercely, earning a few snickers from her friends.
"What did I do?" Master Roshi whined, holding his already swelling head.
"Yeah, well, I'm psychic!"
Yamcha swiftly took a glass from a passing waiter and looked around. The room was getting stuffier and stuffier.
"Guys, who are all these people?" he said, taking a sip.
"No idea," Oolong replied. "Do you think Goku knows any of them?"
Yamcha snorted. "I don't think Goku knows where he is."
Everyone, except Bulma, laughed heartily at the friendly jab. She crossed her arms on her chest.
"And where is he?" she asked, as casually as she could.
Krillin smiled and waved a hand. "I spoke to him earlier," he said. "He was okay. A little bit quieter than usual, but you know – Chichi can scare a guy wordless for what I've seen," he concluded, lowering his voice to a secretive whisper.
The others laughed again loudly and Bulma used the moment to quickly utter "I'll be right back," before slipping away from the cheerful party, unnoticed.
She made her way through the crowd of chatting guests and soon she found herself in a quiet, cool hallway. She followed that way, thinking that everything was still game. Goku hadn't spilled the beans yet, he probably never would. But she had to be sure.
And he was okay, apparently.
That's good to know, she thought with resentment, thinking about the way she had sobbed hopelessly on the bathroom floor.
She mindlessly pushed open a small, iron gate and walked on to the awaiting courtyard.
Guys, she thought, with a deep scowl.
She stopped walking at once, so suddenly she stumbled on her own feet.
Oh, good Kami.
Goku was a few steps ahead of her, dressed in a white tuxedo. He was fighting with the collar of his shirt that was obviously bothering him.
That is a terrible idea, Bulma thought as she began to backpedal in the way she had come from. So what if Goku told anyone. Who would believe him anyway? She didn't need to talk to him, to face him, to interact with him on any level that wasn't 'congratulations, Son Kun'. There was no need to inflict to herself that kind of unwarranted torture. She turned on her feet and was about to bolt when –
"Oh!" she exclaimed, twirling around, trying to sound cool and casual and surprised.
Nonchalance, Bulma. Nonchalance.
"Hem, hey, Son Kun!" she squeaked. Literally squeaked. So much for coolness. Goku was looking at her in a strange, perplexed way. Was he thinking she was crazy? Or that she was some kind of psycho stalker? No way. She had to put things to their place immediately. She punched lightly his arm.
"Ha! Did you use your freaky life-force sensing thing to sneak up on me?" she bellowed.
"No, actually I just saw you running away."
Bulma blushed. Sure, just what she needed to add to the chain of mortifying things that had happened to her since those doomed two o' clock in the morning. If she could only cut out that day and then restart – suddenly, she felt bone-tired. Her whole body was deflating; she hunched forward, hiding her face into her palms.
Goku looked on in alarm."Bulma!" he exclaimed, his eyes becoming even wider if it was possible.
Bulma's shoulders had started to quiver, shaking with small hiccups and sniffles. Goku was absolutely petrified, totally out of his depths. He tried to take her hands away from her face, but they wouldn't budge.
"Hey... why the tears?" he said, as gently as he could.
A few moments passed, the longest of Goku's life. And then still shaking all over, Bulma let her hands slide away, uncovering her face. Goku's jaw went slack.
"What?!" he yelled, incredulous.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" she hiccupped.
Bulma's frame was convulsing from head to toe, but with uncontrollable giggles. She tried to catch a breath. "You look so dumb!" she managed to get out.
Goku was mystified. "Were... were you laughing?"
Bulma was beyond control. "Yeah! Yeah!" she said, still howling with laughers. "You're wearing a bowtie!" she offered, as a way of explanation for her ensued hilarity - though the way she saw things, there really wasn't the need to explain - a bowtie, for Kami's sake -
Goku scratched the back of his head. "…I don't know what that is."
They glanced at one another, locking their glazes and holding them both for two seconds, something shining deeply into their orbs, before dissolving into a loud, untamed laughter that came straight from their bellies. They laughed and laughed until she had tears in her eyes again, until her abdominal muscles hurt, loving every second of it, cherishing every single one of each other's laugh.
As they regained their breath, Bulma felt distinct relief washing over her. She really had believed she'd never be able to laugh with him again.
She lowered her head, shaking it with a smile. Goku put his hand out and gently made her lift her chin. They exchanged a brief glance, then Goku, who'd never been used to physical contact, and to silent expressions of affection, made the first move and took her in his arms, holding her dearly, with a delicacy she didn't know was possible.
Bulma stroked his back up and down a few times. She sighed. "This is a good thing, Son Kun," she said quietly, her face pressed to his chest. She could hear the steady beat of his heart.
"Yeah?" Goku said into her hair.
She moved her head up and down, nodding. "Yeah. You're doing the right thing. It means I'm not wrong about you."
Goku didn't ask what she meant by that. He squeezed tighter for fleeting second, then he let go.
Bulma knew what he was about to do. He was about to apologize, but for once, she was feeling she didn't need an apology, which was a rare occurrence. She cut him off.
"Can we, like… not talk about it, ever again?" she said. "To anyone?" she added for good measure.
Goku stared into her eyes for a moment, then sighed, as if deciding against something. Maybe he hadn't been about to apologize, after all.
"…sure," he finally said. "Anything for you."
Bulma sighed in turn. "Okay," she said, with a single nod. Goku was still staring at her and she nervously tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear.
"So…" she said, her voice going up an octave. "We good?"
Goku's smile was somewhat rueful. But no, it couldn't be, she thought.
"Yeah, we good."
Goku and Bulma both jumped at Baba's sudden appearance on the scene. As always, the fortune teller was floating on her crystal ball, a stern expression on her ancient face.
"What are you doing out here? They're all waiting for you!" she scolded.
Goku laughed sheepishly, bringing a hand behind his scalp. "Hehehe, sorry Baba! Here I am!"
Baba raised an eyebrow at him but said nothing. "Let's go!" she demanded and floated back towards the gate leading inside.
Goku sighed in relief, then turned quickly to Bulma, taking one of her hands and squeezing it tightly.
"See you later, Bulma," he simply said, and he hurried after Baba.
Bulma watched him go. She had thought she would have welcomed that moment with joy and relief. Instead, all she felt was emptiness. And sad. So incredibly sad.
"See you, Goku," she whispered to herself.
A few minutes passed by, then she followed them inside. The room was crowded, she looked around in search of a familiar face. Launch waved at her from the third row.
"Over here!" she was saying. Bulma smiled and went over to her, as if on autopilot. Goku was on the periphery of her vision, standing up straight at the altar. He was listening to something Baba was saying, nodding, blinking his eyes in the way she had learned meant 'I'm all ears'.
"Thank you," Bulma said, once she reached her seat between Launch and Yamcha. Master Roshi was positioned one row ahead alongside Krillin, at a safe distance, she noted with satisfaction.
Yamcha winked at her. "Showtime," he said and Bulma answered with a smile that didn't make it to her eyes, but Yamcha never noticed because everyone was standing up to the pay homage to the entrance of the bride.
The bride, she thought and snorted in amusement at Goku's antics. "Hey, Krillin! ...what's a bride?"
She thought about that fateful night.
She thought about the look they had shared underwater and wished it could have lasted longer. The water was a shield, nothing could touch them down there.
All of a sudden, another realization came upon her. She watched him take his vows and she knew, at once, she'd keep trying to find that sensation again, that moment of purity and surrender, for the rest of her life.
Bulma widened her eyes.
What have I done?